The stunning resorts on property at Walt Disney World are so carefully themed that they offer an immersive retreat all their own.
In truth, every WDW resort offers something worth exploring, but if you’re pressed for time and only want to hit a few, these top picks will give you plenty to see.
You don’t have to stay at one of these resorts to enjoy the stunning design and eye-catching features. Just hop on a bus from any park or Downtown Disney and take a stroll through these fun spots.
1. Disney's Art of Animation Resort
Art of Animation is the newest resort on property, and all the fresh features are sure to give visitors an eyeful. The resort features four themed areas centered around popular Disney movies - The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars. Stroll around the Cars building and you’ll travel right into the heart of Radiator Springs, complete with full size characters that include all the classics, from Lightning McQueen to Luigi.
The Finding Nemo area takes you under the sea with a gigantic Crush character and plenty of aquatic details. Don’t miss the Seagulls perched atop the buildings overlooking the scene.
Head to the building inspired by The Lion King and you’ll see Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa in larger-than-life form, crossing along a log perched above the walkway. Mufasa presides over Pride Rock and Rafiki is on hand to point the way. Scar, Zazu, and the eerie elephant skeleton are featured in this area as well.
The Little Mermaid building features several massive icons in the same styling found at the All Star resorts. You’ll find Ursula, Triton, and Ariel. Scaled down to more manageable proportions is the statue of Prince Eric that Ariel keeps in her hidden grotto. If you have an afternoon for some fun photo ops during your stay, Art of Animation is a prime spot.
2. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
If you can’t get enough of live animal wonders, head to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is the perfect stop for visitors who couldn’t fit Animal Kingdom itself in their stay, but who want a little taste of what it has to offer. DAK Lodge is home to nearly three dozen different species spread across the three savannahs. Guides are on hand around the viewing areas to help you spot them. The lodge features three different savannahs, each with unique species. Only giraffes are found in all three areas.
If you’re around at the right time, you can participate in complimentary activities at the main resort, known as Jambo House, and the DVC building, known as Kidani Village. Just ask a Safari Guide about the next activity time. You’ll earn a unique bead for each activity you participate in, so you can collect them all if you spend enough time at this resort during your stay.
3. Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
If you arrive at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground by car or bus, there’s not much to see at first. You’ll need to take a second bus back to The Settlement to get to the real heart of this resort. This is where you’ll find the Trail’s End Restaurant, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ. The last two are rousing dinner shows that are sure to get your toes tapping.
The Settlement also features a great playground for kids, pony rides, wagon rides, fishing, and water sports, such as canoe and kayak rentals and waterskiing. At Tri-Circle-D Ranch, you can embark on a trail ride, meet some of the park’s famous horses, and watch ranch hands and blacksmiths at work.